Having heard lots about Olivia Levez’s upcoming The Island, being published on 3rd March by Oneworld’s YA imprint Rock The Boat. It’s great to have Olivia on today doing 5-4-3-2-1!
Books you’d save from a burning bookcase
1. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. Its dark, twisted plot still has the power to chill, and I have wonderful memories of watching the Hitchcock film with my mother, as it is her favourite book too. I would save my vintage copy from the flames.
2. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. When I got to the final scene of The Amber Spyglass, I was so devastated to be leaving the world of Lyra and Will and their daemons that I had to go back to the first book and start reading them all over again.
3. Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. This is the most perfectly plotted book I have ever read. It also contains the Twist to Beat All Twists. Like all of Waters’ novels, it has a wonderful setting, Dickensian in its scope and detail, and a cast of unreliable and grotesque characters. At its centre, a poignant and touching love story. Wonderful.
4. Marianne Dreams, by Catherine Storr, illustrated by Marjorie-Ann Watts. I still have my original Puffin copy from the 1980s. This dark creepy tale of Marianne, a little girl whose dreamworld segues into reality, still has the power to terrify. I have never been able to pick up a pencil without wondering whether my drawings will haunt me in my sleep.
5. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’ Neill. Brilliant. Brutal. Feminist, and in my opinion the best YA book of 2015. A darkly disturbing tale of girls whose only purpose in life is to look pretty and be passive recipients of their future husbands’ attentions. Bleak, but a much needed wake-up call in this world of celebrity shaming and eyebrow taming and media objectification of women.
Items of swag you’d love to see made (could be for your own book or someone else’s, or a mix)
1. A Survival Kit for Writers containing a battered notebook, fountain pen with ink pot, lipbalm, a miniature Stephen King calling out advice On Writing, 20 sided dice with writing prompts, a tiny crystal flask of finest malt whiskey, hand cream, Hollywood chewing gum in weird flavours, Hermoine Granger’s time turner.
2. The life model from I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. There was a lovely one at the YALC convention, and I think his name was Eric…
3. The Island Survival Kit containing a pot of lipbalm, a carton of coconut water and matches, all with my book cover on, of course.
4. The tattoo from Juno Dawson’s Under My Skin. And the special edition of the book with pink edges. Mine doesn’t have pink edges.
Authors you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island
1. George R R Martin. Because he could regale me with tales from The Game of Thrones, and that would take A Very Long Time. I’m a huge fan of the series, but haven’t read the books yet.
2. Ed Stafford. He wrote Naked and Marooned, about his time cast away on a desert island, and he does what Bear Grylls does, but does it naked. So ideal really.
3. Lucy Irvine. She wrote Castaway, a beautifully written and harrowing true story of her year spent on a desert island after answering an advert to do this with a total stranger. If anyone can show me how to open peepas and dry sharkflesh, she can.
TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing)
1. Bargain Hunt. A strange and peculiar guilty pleasure, perfect after a long writing session.
2. The Bridge. Utterly compelling Nordic Noir, starring Sofia Helin as Swedish police detective Saga Norén. Her portayal of Saga, whose possible autism means that she struggles to empathise with others or channel her emotions, is brilliantly observed. Saga is wonderfully aided by her coworker, Martin, who has the opposite problem. The scenes where he whispers social tips in her ear are both funny and touching. Very disappointed that Martin isn’t in series 3!
Songs that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly
1. I am a rock, I am an island, by Paul Simon.